Call me strange but I have a really hard time creating in a mess or sometimes creating at all if my house (or mind) is a mess. January is often organizing time for me. Fresh start, you know. Just like September.
I haven't finished any Dear Jane blocks this week. I cleaned and organized instead. I'd gotten behind when I was working on the book and doll quilt club last year and never really caught up. I skimmed over things that needed to get done around the house and left them for another day. Every time I do this and then think about doing something creative, my mind switches to all the unrelated and unfinished things I still need to do.
I realize that the problem is that I get overwhelmed and try to do too many things at the same time. Then nothing gets accomplished. Ever notice that? If I do nothing about the messes that surround me, then that messes with my urge to create. I've found that if I make a list and finish just a few of these "things" that need to get done, I'm calmer and my creativity seems to flow better. So I'm trying to keep ahead and focus on doing maybe ONE thing instead of ALL things.
When I'm organized and have gotten a few things off my list then I'm better able to immerse myself into a project without distractions. I know it's not the same for everyone, but keeping my sewing room organized is also crucial to my creativity. I hate wasting time looking for things I had a minute ago. That seems to happen more as I get older. Here are a few things that help me stay organized and creative. See if any of them work for you too.
A clean sewing table really seems to makes a difference. Even when I'm working, I try to keep the surface neat and use small baskets and pretty containers for holding things. I don't have a large or fancy sewing room with tons of storage and I have to make the best of the space that's available in my small house.
I like sewing in a space filled with natural light and I make sure my table is near a window.
This organizer tray is a great help. It's pretty and functional. Tools I use regularly go back where they belong when I'm finished sewing so I can find them again the next time.
A cutting table that sees the light of day helps me too. I keep a wire basket nearby to hold scraps of whatever fabric I've been using lately. If I need another piece of the same fabric, I can see it and pull it out instead of keeping all of it out to clutter up the mat.
After I've finished a few projects, I take 15 minutes to organize and store the leftovers according to color. My scraps can get out of control unless I find a way to stay on top of them. Throwing them into a large basket or box doesn't help me if I can never find anything when I need it. If you read the section in my new book about organizing your scraps then you know that I separate my larger cuts of fabric from the smaller pieces after they're cut. I place those leftover pieces in smaller drawers or bins according to color.
This colored drawer system (Office Max) I use for my scraps seems to work better for me . . .
. . . than this one.
The really small scraps or strips get stored in zip lock bags (according to color, again) and placed in another bin. If I decide to make something using 2" squares or 1 1/2" strips in certain colors I grab a bag or two (or three or more) and go at it.
For the past couple of years, I've kept my Dear Jane supplies organized in an IKEA rolling cart so I can wheel it out whenever I have the urge to work on the blocks. Then, when I'm finished for the day, I put my book and tools away in the cart so I can find them the next time and wheel it right back in the corner. It seems to work for me and I have a feeling it's part of why I'm moving along on my blocks. The blocks, book and tools are always accessible if I have time.
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It feels good to be organized and know where everything is located when I need to find something and go with a certain flow. It also feels good to be creative and productive. As quilters, we're constantly struggling with fabric messes. If you can create this way, then more power to you. I seem to be missing the gene that filters out messes LOL. Buy less fabric I hear people say! To me, the solution is not to simply avoid purchasing fabric. Buying new and pretty fabric is inspiring and it's often what drives me to create pretty quilts. I need it. I think we also need to get a handle on all of it and find better ways of storing and organizing before it overwhelms us and keeps our creativity level down.
I love playing with my fabric but if my table looks like this all the time my mind gets too distracted and doesn't know where to go from here. I need to sort it.
Are there things that are holding you back from creating? I hope some of the organizing methods I've listed here help you or at least get you thinking about what's good for your own creativity. There are lots more tips in my Small & Scrappy book on storing and organizing your fabric.
Read this if you're having trouble getting organized in general. I enjoyed reading the part about taking care of negative emotional frenzy. Here's another link to stopping the frenzy. Have a great week!